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stillyoung - Freak Like Me (self-released)

6 June 2024

Given that this is the first release from stillyoung, there is a masterful understanding of how to blend indie grooves through an alt-pop soundscape at work here. Such an amalgamation might seem like an easy thing to do; many try, some succeed, but few deliver a song with the level of easy accessibility and infectiousness, space and agility as we find on “Freak Like Me.”

Listening to the song, my mind keeps coming back to the word “pop”, especially given the number of boxes that this song ticks for groove and contagion, fun and addiction, all the things that the genre is, or at least was, based on. And if such a song is not recognisable as pop as we know it today, then that is only because those making such music in the current sonic climate have dumbed it down to the lowest common denominator. But not stillyoung. Not for him the gimmicks and gloss, the dance routines and the guest rappers; this is all about seductive sonics and perfectly poised riffs, leaving enough space for everything to breathe, not to mention allowing that intriguing spoken word fragment to do its thing.

Yes, this is pop. Poised pop. Pop of the highest order. Pop made with maturity and sonic awareness. Pop with perfect pitch and proper pace. Pop with a purpose. Pop with a PhD!

Remember how good pop used to be, before it became about marketing a song into a chart position rather than letting it get there on its own merits, because it was good, popular and genuinely sought after? Remember those days? stillyoung certainly does.